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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Burger’

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review, Sycamore-Maple Park, IL

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Petes Famous Hot Dogs ReviewI love “mom and pop” places that have survived and thrived over the years.

You’ll find a lot of these on the old, original highways of the US, like Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, or US 61 which follows the Mississippi from New Orleans to near the Canadian border.

I’ve written a lot about these kind of places. I’ll almost always stop.

Just off the Lincoln Highway,  one of America’s earliest transcontinental routes, in Western Illinois, you’ll find Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs, an old-timey roadside stand, order at the counter, take it to go or eat at one of the dozen tables inside or outside.  I’ve driven by a dozen or more times, but it was never convenient to stop.  This trip, I made it a point to be there at meal time, and am glad I did.

There is an extensive menu of hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches and sides, with some creative combinations that change from time to time.  Example? “Salami Cajun Burger.”  Sounds intriguing, I didn’t ask, I’ll try it next time, no doubt.

No, I went with a standard cheeseburger, Pete’s even asks you how you want it done, and based on your reply, tells you how long prep will take.

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Famous your food amped up?

Medium? Four minutes.  It’s a hand-formed patty done on a flattop and is / was delicious. Juicy meat, crispy on the edges.

They do an “over the top” job on fresh cut fries.  Some of the best you’ll find.  They also offer “family sized” packs of food to go. Probably to your advantage to call ahead on those if you need them at a specific time.

Pete’s is 58 miles west of Chicago’s loop, just off I-88.  Exit number 113, and meander up (North) on Illinois 47 for a few miles to the junction of 47 and Illinois 64.   It’s less than 30 miles from my house.  I’ll do it again, hell yes.   Menus below. They make some of their own condiments and they are offered for sale.

Open 7AM – 5PM daily, breakfast til 10:30.  The restaurant is CASH ONLY.

Follow Pete’s on Facebook.

 

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Cheeseburger and fries

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Burger close up

 

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

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Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Breakfast

Pete's Hotdogs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review, Sycamore-Maple Park, IL

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review, Sycamore-Maple Park, IL

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Busy Burger Review, Chicago, IL

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Busy Burger Review ChicagoAmericans have been in love with burgers arguably since the first fast food chain (White Castle) launched in the 1920s, but the current infatuation is thought to have come to the forefront around 2011.

There are several theories as to why the burger business amped up at that point in time, but many feel it was the result of a tough time in the economy – people wanted their beef quotient but at the time, couldn’t justify buying steak.

But 20 years earlier, Joseph DeVito imagined his own burger paradise, and at the age of 18, started Busy Burger near the University of Chicago campus. His concept was simple: produce a quality product, cooked to order, at a great value, and the business will prosper. He was right, of course.

Since DeVito launched Busy,  a plethora of “gourmet” burger chains have popped up around the U.S. Many of them have no more to offer than any other chain, other than slick marketing or gimmicks (“our beef comes from cows who are only fed M&Ms by the light of the full moon!”). Some chains are amazingly silly (“we’re gonna charge twice as much for a product half the weight and you’ll love us”).

In 2015 DeVito thought Busy could use an update, so he remodeled, got a new logo, added a few new items to the menu to satisfy the changing tastes of consumers, and developed a state of the industry customer service program for the employees.

DeVito’s people invited me to stop by and try out a burger or two. Of course, I immediately beat a path to the shop, as burgers are my life. I ordered, and the food was quickly prepared and delivered. And I’m looking at it, and a thought comes to mind.

There are a lot of burger eaters in the US that feel that the West Coast chain “In N Out” sets the standard for quality burgers. I’ve personally never felt that way, and after the first bite of my Busy Burger (beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, spicy busy sauce, American cheese on a butter toasted bun), I thought, “Holy moly, this is what In N Out would be like if their burgers were actually GOOD!”

Cause you see, for me, if a burger patty can’t stand on its own, what’s the point? And at Busy Burger  it does. Fresh natural ground beef, nicely seasoned, hand formed patty, grilled and not fried, the Busy beef patty is a thing of beauty. Topped with amazingly fresh chopped vegetables, it becomes a work of art.  I like to take a couple bites of the entire sandwich, then make my way through the individual ingredients. The spicy sauce is unique and flavorful, not the same old thing, and I loved the pickle chips which are reminiscent of a traditional half sour dill. (Half sours are tangy,  crispy and with lower salt than traditional hamburger dills).

I loved the Busy Burger. I opted for a side of rings, which were great, nice breading, not greasy, substantial whole onion inside, and at the table we also had a fully loaded Chicago style hot dog (yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt), fresh cut fries, and a vanilla shake.

The dog matched or surpasses anybody’s in the city, and the fresh cut fries are over the top delicious, hot, crispy, slightly seasoned. One of Chicago’s television stations took a peek behind the scenes at Busy and learned some of the secrets to making their excellent patties.


Busy Burger is located at 1120 West Taylor Street in Chicago, easily accessible from downtown and major freeways (see map below). Trust me, it’s worth a stop.I’ve posted their full menu, and if you’re in the immediate area, you can order online from GrubHub.

Busy Burger Review Chicago

Menu Item: Busy Burger

Busy Burger Review Chicago

Busy Burger and O-Rings

Busy Burger Review Chicago

Busy Burger Location

Chicago's Busy Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Busy Burger Review

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Parkers Restaurant and Bar Review, LaGrange, IL

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Parkers Restaurant and Bar ReviewYour dilemma, searching for this restaurant online, is that it is known, for some peculiar reason, by different names. The name on the building is Parkers’ Restaurant and Bar.  The domain name for their website is “ParkersAmerican.”  On different sites around the web, you’ll see a reference to “Parker’s Ocean Grill.”

I’m confused and I haven’t even been seated. The restaurant boasts they are all about “fresh,” and maintain relationships with specially selected suppliers, growers and farmers for filling their larder. I have no reason to doubt that, with one exception. The “catch of the day” when I was there was “Tilapia brought from the Gulf,” which is probably incorrect, an awful lot of wild tilapia is inedible, and the tilapia served in US restaurants and available in groceries is farmed – pond raised. There are a few tilapia farms in the US, but the vast majority of farmed tilapia sold in the US comes from Latin America or Asia. Small matter.

Spoiler alert. Unless you’re planning a special evening, have a large group, or need to eat at a specific hour, hit the bar for their happy hour menu, these days and times:

Monday thru Friday – 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday – 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday – 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The bar menu is half-price and there are drink specials, of course. The bar menu includes some small plates, a number of wood-fired pizzas, and a couple sandwiches, including a traditional New England lobster roll. Here’s what’s cool about that. At the happy hour price, the lobster roll is less than you’d pay nearly anywhere from Massachusetts to Maine! Honest!

We went with tempura shrimp (3 to an order) and bruschetta, (Wood Grilled Garlic Crostini, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Laura Chenel Goat Cheese, Roasted Tomato Basil Salad). The bruschetta was heavy on the herbs, and the group universally panned it.

On to the dinner table, and the entree orders were preceded by a wedge salad to share, followed by sea scallops  with gnocchi, cedar plank roasted Lake Superior whitefish with mash, a tilapia sandwich with shoestrings, and me?  Why a burger, of course, “Certified Angus,”  Moody Blue cheese (Wisconsin), Lettuce, Tomato, on a toasted Challah.  The kitchen’s choice is to serve this with a chipotle mayo, which I passed on.  It’s a pretty fine burger, terrific Wisconsin blue cheese (but owned by the Swiss cheese giant Emmi which has been buying up small specialty cheesemakers in the US), the bun was buttered, toasted, and firm enough to hold the meat and any condiments one chose.

I have kind of a problem with “Certified Angus,” which is merely a service mark a group of ranchers dreamed up in the 70s.  They have various claims about their beef being “better,” I can’t say if it is or not, I know I’ve had lots of great burgers from very small producers.  My personal favorite is (no, not Pat Lafrieda, but Creekstone Farms).  In any case, the burgers was A-OK.  $14.00.  Reports from around the table – a rave for the whitefish, a “great” for the tilapia sandwich, and a “meh” for the scallops. She thought the texture was odd.  I can relate to that.

I’m not sure where I would place this type of restaurant – I guess you could call it “casual fine dining?”  It’s a nice room, tablecloths, a buncha flatware, kinda noisy, and people come in all sorts of apparel.  Entrees range from $14 – $50.  Dinner for four, with wine, was close to $300.  (Not on me, I never pay!)

You need three things to have a restaurant that’s great, not simply good, in no particular order:  1)nice ambience, 2) great  food, 3) fantastic service. Parkers hits two out of three.  It’s a nice room, pleasant, you don’t feel jammed in or that the next table is eavesdropping. There are some private rooms as well.  The food was largely “OK,” esthetically pleasing, and rather tasty, but nothing on the menu is going to make you go “wow.”

The service?  Here’s where this joint shined last night.  Jordan (like the river, she said), was knowledgeable, friendly, over the top attentive, checking in, but not too often, and immediately dealing with every request from the table. I didn’t ask what her career ambitions are, but if she’s staying in the hospitality industry, Parkers would be smart to keep her.  Too many people in the service industry today are just passing through, and haven’t bothered to even look up the definition of “hospitality.” Jordan nailed it.

Parkers’ is part of the Select Restaurant group based in Cleveland; they operated ten restaurants that stretch across America, and are mostly focused on entrees that swim.  You can make reservations online, and you probably should, because on a Saturday night, the place was jammed, and there were people waiting in the lobby.

Parkers' Restaurant & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Parkers Restaurant and Bar  Review

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Around the Clock Review – Crystal Lake, IL

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Around the Clock ReviewDespite there being an awfully lot of diners in the US that were founded by, or are run by persons of Greek descent, it’s uncommon that you run into places serving a “Greek burger,” which happens to be a combination I really enjoy. The recipe doesn’t vary much, and usually includes lettuce, tomato, cuke slices, tzatziki (cucumber) sauce, and feta, at minimum. Some places pile on sliced Greek olives, but Around the Clock uses them as a decorative garnish.  Either way is fine with me.

There are several good things one should be aware of before tackling a meal at A.T.C.

1) They have an outrageous bakery, even if you don’t want a meal, stop by and grab a pastry, or a slice or whole pie.

2) When you order your sandwich “deluxe” it comes with a complimentary bowl of soup (always several choices), and your choice of side: fries, seasoned fries, rings or fruit. This is cool cause there is no “upcharge” for rings, as an example.

3) Portions are huge.

So I opted for their version of a Greek burger, which they call an “Athenian” and it’s an occasional special, rings, and cream of chicken as my soup choice. Ended up taking a lot of it home. The flavorful, cooked to order, 1/2 pound beef patty had a nice slight char crust from a flattop, and the ring batter had a hint of beer.

The burger literally was (ok, almost) too big to pick up, with the beef piled high with rich feta, creamy tzatziki, and fresh, crisp vegetables.  Fresh baked roll, and crunchy pickle spears to boot.

BTW?  They also have a terrific club sandwich, one of my favorites.

Around the Clock is open early for breakfast, til midnight weekdays, and 1 AM weekend nights. It’s the perfect place to take a family or group who are in a spittin’ contest on where to go, cause there is literally something on the menu that every one will enjoy.

Our server Cassidy was a peach.

Peruse the menu online and order a pie.  BTW, restaurant people?  If I WERE your most important customer (LOL), you’d add deep fried tater tots or waffle fries) as an option, and smother that Greek burger in smashed kalamatas.  Just sayin’.

Around the Clock Review

Athenian Burger

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Around the Clock Review

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DMK Burger Review – Chicago

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DMK Burger ReviewStarted in 2009, now with three locations in greater Chicagoland, DMK is regarded as one of the city’s great burgers. I found both positive and negative aspects to the experience.

I had read a number of reviews prior to stopping by, and I agree with some of both the pluses and minuses.

The beef burger itself was fine, tho small and rather flavorless for the price. The toppings I asked for (that usually go along with the lamb burger) made for an exciting sandwich, and included feta, tomato, cucumber, tzatziki sauce, and olive “tapenade.” The latter turned out to be a few (very few) diced Greek-style olives. The feta was very creamy and the sandwich was served on an ultra soft bakery style roll, which, although toasted, was not substantial enough to hold the burger and fixings without collapsing early on. I used to have a Greek deli in Portland make a burger dressed like this from time to time. You guys could be more generous with the olives and have a heartier bun for this one.

Started with three deviled eggs for $2, which were absolutely church-picnic bland. They need some jazzing up. Small order of truffle/parmesan fries at $4.50 had exceptional flavor that wasn’t overpowered by garlic mayo dipping sauce.

Just looking at the beef (star of the show), which you point out is “grass fed and organic,” eh. I like when joints these days identify their source/suppliers, and I found the patty at Epic Burger (from Creekstone Farms) to be more flavorful on its own.

A patty melt came around to the table, and it was properly cooked and prepared. Ice teas to drink, quite ordinary as well. So, one appetizer, two burgers, one small fries, two iced teas, $40. Pretty spendy.

Other people have pointed out a few things that I agree with – this place is really loud, the tables are too close together, service is so-so, and the restaurant is kind of in indentity crisis mode. Is it a spectacular burger bar? House of many microbrews? Ice creamery? I suggest picking one and doing it really well.

Some other diners have suggested this is a good place to bring kids, but I disagree, why spend $10-$15 on a kid’s burger or mac and cheese (there is no children’s menu).  Plus you’re not going to be able to talk to your kids, because of the noise volume.

Other diners complained about not being able to make substitutions, but my server gave me no problem on that.  She did say all burgers are cooked to medium after I requested medium rare, but if you judge from the picture, I think I got my way.  These are thin smashed patties, and it’s awfully tough to control doneness in the to a level other than “done.”

Here’s the full menu for DMK.

DMK Burger Review

 

DMK Burger Review

#11 With Beef Patty

DMK Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

DMK Burger ReviewDMK Burger Review

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Epic Burger Review Chicago

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Cooling my heels on a frosty downtown Chicago day, I bumped into Epic Burger, started in 2008 and now with eight Chicagoland locations.  A straightforward, simplified menu, namely, a burger, a chicken sammie, turkey burger, portobello burger, fries, salad, snakes and fountain drinks, period.

The emphasis is on quality ingredients, humanely raised, hormone free, and their beef supplier is Creekstone Farms of Kansas, which I personally believe now deserves the crown of the best burger supplier in America, bar none.

You can add a choice of three different Wisconsin cheeses, nitrate free bacon, and condiments of your choice.  Fresh cut thick fries with sea salt are available solo or in a combo.

Buns are baked fresh daily, the establishment uses real butter, cage free eggs, and the burger produce tastes like you grew it yourself.

The patties are amply-sized, have a nice little char crust and are obviously (note pic) hand-formed.

This is a real winner, as evidenced not only by my smile and warm belly, but by the company’s acceptance leading to its growth.  Great burger, great fries, great value.

Try one.  Or a double. Daily.

Locations.

Epic Burger Chicago Review

Epic Burger Chicago

 

 

 

 

 
Epic Burger on Urbanspoon
 

 

Epic Burger Review Chicago

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West Dundee, IL – Chubby Bullfrog Bar & Grill Review

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Chubby Bullfrog ReviewI’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to bars and restaurants in strip malls.  I guess it’s perfectly fine to younger generations, but the idea of trying to squeeze “ambiance” into a former yogurt shop or dry cleaner just seems a stretch to me.

The Chubby Bullfrog sees itself as a sports bar, with the usual memorabilia perched on the walls, and a couple dozen NHL jerseys hanging from the ceilings.  Five TVs ring the bar, and four video poker machines are perched in the corner.

The owner has decided there is no local lunch crowd, so they open at 3 PM  most days.   With the exception of there being alligator bites and frog legs on the menu, it’s straightforward standard  Chicago bar food.

It will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody that I had a burger, which are hand-formed patties in your choice of 6, 8, or 10 ounces,  on a fresh ‘pretzel-like’ roll, and topped with Spanish onion, tomato, lettuce, accompanied by a kosher spear.  I say “pretzel-like” as it has the appearance of a pretzel roll, but not the cloying sweet taste most buns of that ilk possess, which I find unpleasant.

Fries or chips are standard, upgrade to tots, rings or a salad for a buck.  About $11 in all for the 8 ounce, with bacon and blue cheese.  The bacon was very flavorful, and while the blue cheese was a chunky sauce, is was very “blue,” strong in flavor, which was a delight for me.

At some point in every burger experience, I strip everything away to taste just the beef, and this is a nice grind, very flavorful, natural  beef flavor, with a slight char.  The deep fried tots were exceptional.  Pepsi soda products and a gajillion beers in bottles.

Worth a stop in the Northwest burbs, and they are periodically on restaurant.com with a $10 coupon. (Active as of the date of this post). Want some fantastic blue or goat cheese for your home burgers?  Check these out.

 

Chubby Bullfrog Review

 

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Chubby Bullfrog Bar & Grill Review

 

 

 

 

 

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Geneva, IL – Old Towne Pub & Eatery Review

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In my recent final Midwest swing of the year, before the snow flies and I head back south to the farm, I was meeting various friends around the city and burbs for fellowship and food.   One of my stops took me to Geneva, IL, a far western burb – you’d recognize the quaint downtown if you saw the Tom Hank’s movie “Road to Perdition.”

Geneva’s downtown is vibrant with cute boutiques, specialty shops, antiques and eateries.  I stopped in for a beer only (Stella on draft) at the Old Towne Pub & Eatery, and got suckered in to having the Sunday special, a $5 burger, by the smooth talking and oh so cute waitress, “Nikki.”

Old Towne has a great bar food menu, with some good innovations, and aesthetically pleasing preparation.  They also have beer taps on some of the tables, pour yourself, if you’re inclined – the flow is metered and you’re charged by the ounce.  Wouldn’t be able to take Mrs. Burgerdogboy in there, she’s pull a Barney (the Simpsons) stunt, lie on the floor with the tap and her mouth wide open!

Burgers are 1/2 pound Angus, dressed with tomato, lettuce, onion, pickle;  a whole raft of additional toppings  and cheeses are available with an up charge.  Sandwiches and such are served with a choice of sides from a long list:  fries, tots, chips, or chips and salsa.  Always one to appreciate the small things in life, I can tell you Old Towne has a great pickle spear.

The burger was prepared as ordered, and the beef had great flavor.  It was one of those times I felt condiments did a disservice, and that was the second time in a week, following my visit to Vickies Place, up river from Geneva.

Take a look at the menu for Old Towne, and spend a pleasant afternoon or evening in Geneva.

Old Towne Pub Geneva Review

 

@OTPGeneva

Old Towne Pub & Eatery on Urbanspoon

Old Towne Pub Geneva review

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McHenry, IL – Vickies Place Review

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Few things I enjoy more than a hot summer day on a boat, and docking at a more than adequate waterside joint for cocktails and snacks.  Such was the case I hit Vickies Place, in McHenry, IL.   McHenry is perched on the Fox River, which runs into the Chain of Lakes, on up to outside of Milwaukee, and south to the Illinois River, which rolls into the Mississippi about 25 miles north of St. Louis.

I’m sure most summer days Vickies is a mad house, but in the middle of a weekday after noon when we floated up, it was relatively quiet.

The menu has something for every taste.   I will caution you in advance, this is one of those places you are going to get OVERSERVED in the food realm.  I opted for an order of rings as a starter, which came with three different dipping sauces, very tasty, big mistake, as all of the oversized sandwches are accompanied by BOTH fries and onion straws.

Could be wrong, but had the feeling the rings weren’t made in house, but the onion straws were.  Both were delicious.  The fries?  Those extruded things, I know they are popular with a lot of people, just not my personal favorites –  I like to be able to tell fries came from a potato.

I went with the Black and Blue Lagoon burger, cajun seasoned hand-formed eight ounce patty, blue cheese crumbles, and blue cheese sauce – served on the most incredibly soft butter-topped roll.  Dressed with lettuce and tomato, with a great pickle spear on the side. Real crunch.

The patty was quality beef, and the taste came through loud and clear.  One fine hamburg sandwich. Couldn’t get anywhere near finishing the plate.

They have entrees, sandwiches, baskets, house-made pizza, and the ubiquitous Friday night fish fry.

Our server “K.C.” was affable, knowledgeable, and outgoing.  Attentive without hovering.  She’s wasting her talents there.

If you find yourself boating up the Fox, or driving the back roads of northern Illinois, Vickies is worth a stop.

 

Vickies McHenry Review

Exterior

Vickies McHenry Review

Rings & Sauces

 

Vickies McHenry Review

Black & Blue Burger

Vickies McHenry Review

Build Your Own Burger Option

Vickie's Place Restaurant on Urbanspoon
 

 

 

Vickies Place Review

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Burgers That I Dream About (but haven’t gotten to yet!)

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Illinois Bar & Grill in Chicago serves up this monster, 3/4 pound of meat, and look at that bacon. Man oh man….I’ll be there soon. The photo is a still from “The Cheeseburger Show.” You’ll love this guy, watch an episode or six. (Kevin, if you object to my use of the photo, let me know, I’ll 86 it).


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